BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered more aerial support and weapons for fighters battling the Islamic State militant group in Anbar province as clashes rage over the provincial capital, Ramadi.
Al-Abadi called for the additional support after a meeting late Saturday with delegates from the Anbar Provincial Council. The air power and weapons are intended both for Iraq’s embattled armed forces and Sunni tribes supporting the anti-Islamic State fight in Anbar, a statement released by his office said.
The Islamic State group has seized a number of cities and towns across Anbar province, including Fallujah. Iraqi soldiers backed by Sunni tribal fighters engaged in intense clashes Sunday to retake Ramadi’s eastern Sijariya neighborhood, which the extremist group said it captured Friday
The US and Iraqi governments have been working to woo Sunni tribesmen to support the fight against the Islamic State group, proposing the establishment of a national guard program that will include arming and paying loyal tribesmen. But militants with the Sunni extremist group are looking to thwart those efforts, targeting tribesmen who try to challenge their authority.
On Friday, the militants lined up and shot several men from the al-Bu Fahd tribe, which is taking part in the fight against them. They also have killed more than 200 men, women and children from Anbar’s Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent weeks, apparently in revenge for the tribe’s siding with Iraqi security forces and, in the past, with US forces.